Cataracts are responsible for negatively impacting the vision and quality of life of millions throughout the United States. Left untreated, this progressive condition will eventually lead to severe loss of vision. Dr. Craig can diagnose cataracts so patients can avoid their devastating effects to eye health and vision. Protect your vision by being aware of the risk factors and signs of cataracts, having your eyes checked regularly, and managing the presence of cataracts with treatment at Family Eye Care Center in Elkins.
Cataract is the term used to describe the gradual clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. Those affected experience blurry vision through the clouded lens which may progress to loss of vision.
Unfortunately, the development of cataracts can be part of the normal aging process. Cataracts may also develop following an injury to the tissue which composes the eye’s lens. There are also several genetic disorders known to cause health issues which may lead to an increased risk of developing a cataract. Environmental conditions and exposure to various toxins and substances may also play a part.
Although cataracts can be present at any age (including birth), they typically develop over time as part of the aging process. There are several known risk factors to be aware of. You can take steps to help decrease your risk of developing cataracts by avoiding these factors. These include excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays and exposure to cigarette smoke and toxins. These should be avoided to minimize your chances of developing cataracts. Be sure to wear proper UV protective sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat when outdoors to help minimize exposure. A diet high in colorful vegetables and fruits rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and essential minerals may help fortify eye health and aid in prevention of cataracts and eye disease. In addition, you should have a dilated eye exam at least every two years after the age of 60 to determine whether changes are occurring within the lens of your eye, as surgical intervention is most effective when initiated as early as possible.
Because they typically develop slowly and gradually over time, many affected by a cataract are unaware of their presence until they begin to have significant effects on vision. Initially, decreased vision may only affect a small point of your vision. As it grows, the cataract will obscure more of your vision as it prevents light from passing through the lens. Some signs and symptoms to watch out for are listed below; however, the best way to detect the presence of cataracts is to be sure to have regular eye examinations. As cataracts progress, the loss of vision can be profound.
Cataracts may affect one or both eyes. They may develop at different rates. Over time as the lens loses flexibility and becomes thicker due to age, or a medical condition or toxin causes the structure of the lens to break down and fibers and proteins begin forming clumps, a cataract can form. Several types of cataracts are recognized.
Yellowish clouding near the center of the lens which you may initially greet as a welcome presence as it improves reading vision by causing increasing nearsightedness. Unfortunately, this is followed by increasing vision loss. This is the most common type of cataract and if you live long enough, you can expect to meet this unwelcome visitor.
When a nuclear cataract is left to progress untreated, it tends to harden and turn brown, or brunescent. Cataracts at this stage distort color vision significantly and can make it impossible to distinguish colors, especially shades of blue and bluish purple. Hardened cataracts are much more difficult and risker to remove.
Initially appearing as a tiny opaque speck near the front / back of the lens, this rapidly growing cataract directly obscures the path of light from reaching your retina. This results in the inability to read well or see clearly without the use of a strong light source. At night, you may be bothered by halos and glare when looking at lights. It can develop rapidly, often within weeks to months and often following eye trauma, swelling, or the presence of atopic dermatitis eczema.
Whitish and wedge-shaped, this cataract near the lens cortex (edge) may also appear as streaks of white that progressively move nearer the center of the lens. It causes glare and may also result in hazy vision. It can make it hard to know how far away an object is by damaging near and far sight, as well as distorting the appearance of similar colors.
Most commonly seen in those with diabetes, these rare cataracts appear as greyish-white areas in a pattern reminiscent of snowflakes. They are known to progress rapidly.
Caused by injury to the eye, this type of cataract may appear immediately or many years after being hit in the eye, contact with a splinter, a burn to the eye, or chemical contact.
Any type of radiation exposure can damage the lens and cause a cataract to form. This type of cataract is commonly caused by radiation damage following cancer treatment or excessive exposure to solar UV radiation.
This type of cataract is caused by a medical condition like diabetes, cataract or other eye surgery, or a medication, such as prednisone or other steroids.
This type of cataract may be present at birth or develop to the point of detection during childhood. It may be caused by a genetic condition, trauma, or infection prior to birth, including rubella, galactosemia, myotonic dystrophy, or neurofibromatosis type 2. This type of cataract may or may not affect vision, but when they do the cataract should be promptly removed.
This type of cataract is most often found in children and is often present in both eyes. They appear as fine white dots located in the center of the lens and may take on the shape of a “Y.” They are caused by an inherited genetic condition and must be treated immediately to prevent total vision loss.
These types of cataracts form on the front / back center of the lens, and appear as small white dots, but do not typically affect vision. They are caused by an inherited genetic condition.
Following surgical extraction of the vitreous humor gel within the eye to address a medical issue, this type of cataract may form as a side effect of the procedure.
Most commonly seen in those with myotonic dystrophy, these cataracts appear as colorful, shiny crystals within the lens.
If you notice any changes in your vision, including sudden eye pain, double vision, flashes of light, or a sudden headache, or you are concerned about the possibility of having a cataract, make an appointment at Family Eye Care Center right away. It is important to protect your vision with a regular annual eye exam. Dr. Craig and the staff of Family Eye Care Center can provide a comprehensive eye examination to help diagnose the presence of a cataract so you can begin treatment right away.
Dr. Craig will carefully review your medical history, go over your symptoms with you, and perform a comprehensive eye examination, paying special attention to the lens of your eye behind the pupil and iris. Any changes in the lens appearance that indicate a cataract will be noted. These changes, along with vision loss, may indicate the presence of a cataract. Dr. Craig may perform a series of various tests to evaluate the condition of your eye’s lens.
Most patients can expect to have Dr. Craig dilate the pupils with special drops to provide a view of the entire lens. He may measure your visual acuity (quality of vision) to determine the severity of any loss of vision, test contrast sensitivity to determine the degree of decreased contrast caused by light scattering or glare caused by the cataract, and assess your visual field (peripheral or side vision) to help determine whether this has been affected, as well. A bright slit lamp may be used to help us get a really good look at your lens to examine for the presence of a smaller cataract that may be developing.
If a cataract is present, we may also conduct a potential acuity test to measure how well you would see without the presence of the cataract. This can help determine whether you may benefit from surgical intervention to correct the condition.
Family Eye Care Center patients diagnosed with a cataract can begin preparing for treatment right away if the condition causes bothersome symptoms including any degree of vision loss. The only effective treatment for cataracts is surgical extraction of the damaged lens. Fortunately, most patients can be fitted with a crystal clear artificial intraocular lens. The intraocular lens will remain in place as a permanent replacement for the diseased organic lens and is expected to provide exceptional vision for a lifetime. Dr. Craig can provide a referral to our trusted cataract surgical specialist for treatment and provide all follow-up care after the procedure to help ensure your continuing visual wellness.
Early diagnosis of the presence of a cataract, with prompt surgical intervention to replace the diseased lens allows for the best possible outcome. Dr. Craig can provide supportive diagnostic and follow-up medical treatment for patients with cataracts in Randolph County (Elkins, Beverly, Mill Creek), Barbour County (Belington, Philippi), Tucker County (Parsons, Davis, Thomas), Upshur County (Buckhannon), and Pocahontas County (Snowshoe, Marlinton, Durbin), and beyond at our clinic in Elkins.
Protect your vision by scheduling a professional eye examination at Family Eye Care Center today! Dr. Craig is here to address any concerns you may have about cataracts, answer your questions, and provide you with the comprehensive medical eye examination you need to diagnose the presence of a suspected cataract or vision problem and help you access the treatment you need to restore the best possible vision. To schedule, please call Family Eye Care Center at: (304) 636-9111.